ALAIN Rousseau makes another short black coffee and begins to enthuse about the 2014 vintage just completed.
The day is another bright, sunshine-drenched, autumnal Tasmanian mid-morning … cool, but not too cold.
Rousseau is the chief winemaker at Frogmore Creek, the vineyard and winery nestled on the gentle slopes of the Coal River Valley, overlooking Barilla Bay in Tasmania’s south. His second, 45ha wine base lies in Campania, 15 minutes north of the signature winery.
Like all winemakers, he deals with the inevitable ups and downs of vintage … this year down on volume. But he enthuses about the corresponding quality of grapes and wine Frogmore will deliver.
“With the Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, the quality is very good. The Pinot Noir is very rich and concentrated, as expected from the smaller yield this year – down from 8 tonnes per hectare to 5 – but the tannin structure is going to very good.”
Frogmore Creek makes a wide range of wines under its own label, and that of 42 Degrees South and Storm Bay – but is perhaps best known for its premium sparkling, Pinot Noir and Riesling wines.
In fact, Rousseau is the enviable position of having his 42 Degrees South 2013 Pinot Noir increase sales substantially.
This year, Frogmore Creek’s vintage was assisted by the purchase of a new press – an Australian first – the Europress S120, built by German firm Scharfenberger and imported by Australian distributor Grapeworks.
The Europress S is a dual style pneumatic press – essentially two presses in one machine – another Australian first.
The unit can be used as either a slotted open drum style press or as a closed drum tank press.
“With sparkling wines, it is better pressed whole bunch, and being a 12-tonne press, we were able to put through 24 bins at a time, some eight and half tonnes,” Rousseau said.
“The press is very versatile; you can remove the drains and use the vented cage to aid aeration and oxidation, which gives more stability to our sparkling wines.
“For the more fragile, aromatic wines – Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling – the closed drum limits the oxidation, protecting the aromatics.”
Frogmore Creek now makes some 20000 cases of sparkling annually – from its premium 2008 Frogmore Creek Cuvee Evermore to the best-selling 42 Degrees NV South Sparkling.
Rousseau also appreciates the Europress’ simplicity.
“It is very strong, made all of stainless steel. But the main point for me is that all the electrical parts can be bought off the shelf in Hobart … any electrician can fix it.
“For me, it is very important that it is easy to make it work. I can do the servicing myself by following the instruction booklet.
“The drain is on the outside, so I can clean the inside with three minutes of hosing … and there is not one single skin left.
“Then I can unclip the drain, give it a blast with the high pressure hose and clip it back together in 20 minutes.”
Frogmore Creek had a specially-designed big hopper built for the press, enabling Rousseau to more easily load the whole bunches of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for the sparkling wines.
Full story in July’s Grapegrower & Winemaker.
Grapeworks says the Europress S features include:
- Two presses in one – can be used as either an “open slotted” drum style press or as a “closed drum” tank style press.
- External drains mean they are a single flat clean piece of stainless steel without any corners or hard to reach places; all residual grape material can be easily removed with just a hose and no residual bacteria harboured.
- Larger drainage surface than a standard internal drain closed press, which equals faster draining and press cycles
- Variable frequency driven main motor for smooth, quiet operation; gentle rocking during axial feeding and quick, controlled removal of dry skins. The drum accelerates through the top of the cycle and slows down automatically as the doors reach the bottom to speed up the emptying process without overloading the removal auger/conveyor or bin.
- Full custom built stainless catwalk, leg extensions and skins elevator controlled from press.
- Juice tray sensor with output to automated juice pump. Juice tray sensors include high low for stop start of the pump but also a fail-safe, third sensor that will pause the press program and rotate the drains up to the top to stop flow in the event of a pump failure and the juice level getting too high.
- Twelve standard, custom press programs; space for more “owner specific” cycles
- Intuitive touch screen control of all functions, with push button backup and remote control.